How We Built It:
The Making of A
How We Built It:
The Making of A $26,650 Website
I’ve been writing this post in my head for 9 months: that’s how long it took to get this website done.
A massive team of really talented people worked hard to make it happen, and I want to make sure they all get credit. It takes a village to raise a website, seriously. I had no idea it would be so much work.
Writing the first good draft of copy took about a week if I’d been at it full time. In reality, it took much more than a week because I was on “pseudo-maternity-leave” and working just a few hours now and then. Much of it was written from my phone while nursing a baby. Well done past-tense-Tarzan for picking up the iPhone 7 Plus last time I upgraded my phone.
I planned the new copy down to the minute-est level of detail. I wrote copy for my Error 404 page, submitted extremely specific language for my intake form, rewrote the phrasing of my GDPR-compliance checkboxes at least 8 times. Holy-moly, what an undertaking.
When I submitted it to my designer, I thought my job was pretty much done. *facepalm* I was just getting started. That was May.
I had no idea I was embarking on a full rebrand and building an evergreen quiz funnel for my program The Money Vault. But so it was. Here’s a breakdown of how we built it:
What I wanted my website to do:
- Position me as a celebrity everyone wants to work with
- Position me the #1 strategist-slash-copywriter for launches
- SIDE NOTE: This was one of my key mistakes in the copy, which will be my first rewrite. It’s very copywriting-focused, where it should be strategy-first if I want to command higher rates and do the work I truly love.
- Sell my day rate offer without me getting on sales calls, even after I bump it up to $5500K, which I plan to do in 2019
- Sell my quickie workshops that don’t have a funnel, Day Rate Superstar & Get Paid In USD
- Attract 165 new leads/day into my quiz funnel—assuming a 2% conversion rate, this would net $30K/month passively for my business or 3.33 sales per day
Where I got my “inspiration”
Back in music school, they used to say “good composers borrow, great composers steal.” I put “inspiration” in quotations because what I really meant is “people I stole from.”
I browsed dozens of my favourite websites and sent notes to my designer saying “make it look like this!” Every single page of copy I wrote was laid out exactly the way I wanted, with a link to a live website page for inspiration.
I looked at websites where people are doing the same things I want to do. Like, attract leads with a quiz funnel. Or sell a real baller day rate.
Here’s a list of people I borrowed from:
- My work with me page took layout inspiration from Laura Belgray’s Talking Shrimp.
- The home page segmentation strategy is also Laura’s, and I’ve recommended this strategy to many clients who have more than one client avatar. (On my “start here” page you’re asked to identify yourself as either a course creator or freelancer.)
- My speaking page layout was inspired by The Copywriter Club.
- My about page looks (and reads) a lot like Jenna Kutcher’s, as does the layout and design of my quiz results pages (which you won’t be able to see unless you take my quiz, What’s Your 80’s Pricing Persona.
- My “home page fakeout” (that’s what my team & I dubbed it) was something I picked up from Zach Spuckler of Heart, Soul and Hustle—minus the crazy pop-ups.
- Worth noting, Zach is also segmenting from his home page, as does Amy Porterfield.
- The fakeout is a lot like a welcome mat, only it’s not a page takeover, it IS the home page. I find this less annoying.
- I screenshotted all of the popups on Minima Designs and took cues from her GDPR-compliance strategy
- Michelle used to have a blog post about her GDPR-compliance strategy, but it looks like she took it down. After writing my own yet-to-be-published GDPR blog post, I totally get why. It’s super complex and seems to change every day based on who you ask.
Who I worked with:
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT / EVERYTHING
Sandra Booker / Any Old Task
It always felt weird to call Sandra my VA, because she is so much more. For this project Sandra fully stepped into the role of business manager, and coordinated many of the people involved. She also handled ALL the software integrations, which is huuuuge.
I didn’t log in once to connect email sequences, set up countdown timers, nada. I have no idea how any of it works, and I’m glad I don’t. I had a heavy hand in directing the high-level strategy, but I stayed completely out of the weeds. (Which is partly why I spent so much money, but totally worth it. More on that later.)
This process was key to me stepping into the visionary role, and allowing Sandra to be my integrator, which she does much better than me.
WEBSITE DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT
Amber Seacrest / Brand Alchemy
Amber’s been with me for nearly 2 years and she totally GETS my vision. The work she does for me is unlike anything her other clients ask for. But you’d never guess.
I come to Amber with a vision (read: I make Loom videos with crazy hand gestures and talk about design ideas that literally came to me in my sleep) and she makes it real.
It took a few rounds to get the 80’s look I was going for, but Amber was persistent and patient, even when the project ballooned WAY beyond the original scope. I did lots of rounds of payments and many revisions to the invoice. Many an email started with “I know this will cost more, but…”
Jennifer McCready / Lady Luck Pin-Ups
I loved working with Jennifer because she didn’t just take the pictures, she styled the whole shoot, including providing the wardrobe. All I brought were red converse and a pair of 80’s dangly earrings. She turned it into this:
We had to do the entire shoot twice since the power went off about 5 minutes after I finished hair & makeup. Gah! That was frustrating. Foiled by a freak summer thunderstorm. One of many, many delays.
QUIZ FUNNEL STRATEGY & COPYWRITING
Chanti Zak / Chanti Zak
After working with Chanti, I pretty much couldn’t stop talking about her on every FB live, every client call, every lesson in my programs. She’s one of those “worth writing
At first, it felt weird to hire another copywriter (“Shouldn’t I be doing this myself?”) but weird turned to awesome very quickly. She completely GOT my voice. The quiz results pages sound like me, only better.
If you want to see the incredible thing she created with me, you’ll have to take our quiz, What’s Your 80’s Pricing Persona?
Justin Blackman / Pretty Fly Copy
Once the website was up and viewable on a staging site, it became clear some of my headlines were not up to the Tarzan standard. I wrote them quickly, as I did the whole site, and skipped the whole “write 30 headlines and pick the best” routine, to my detriment.
The original homepage headline looked like this:
The quality of the copy didn’t match the design so I brought in Justin, who wrote 200 headlines for me, which are sprinkled throughout the site. I used 4 of them.
Justin is responsible for the brilliant Jaws reference, “You’re gonna need a bigger bank,” which I laughed about for days. I will definitely be working with him again.
Wackoe Hernandez / Wackoe Films
When I booked a first class speaking gig at Amy Porterfield’s annual event for B-Schoolers The Entrepreneur Experience, the first person I hired was Wackoe. Speaking is a major goal of mine in the next few years, so I wanted a great reel. He created the incredible highlight reel on my speaking page, and also took beautiful photos of me on stage.
Bobby Klinck / Your Online Genius
Bobby also trained us up on GDPR-compliance, and we rejigged our strategy a lot after getting his professional opinion. Look for an upcoming blog post on that.
Software we added to pull the website together:
For all pop-ups and opt-ins. We chose OptinMonster even though it’s among the more expensive ones because it has good GDPR-compliance integration. I used SumoMe on my old site and I always found it frustrating. Our new popups are gorgeous (thanks, Amber) and mostly GDPR-compliant (thank you, Sandra!).
Chanti Zak recommended using Interact and
We struggled with the GDPR-compliance side of this because you can’t only show the 2-step opt-in to people in the EU. We’re now allowing anyone to take the quiz and get their results without opting in, but I’m totally okay with
We needed new software for managing my evergreen program. My course The Money Vault has several expiring bonuses and a lower price point if you buy it within the promo period. Sandra completely managed this process. I haven’t logged in once. Again, staying out of the weeds.
We joined EverWebinar simply because we already have WebinarJam and it seemed logical to stick with our provider. (We’ve since left WebinarJam and gone back to Zoom.)
Again, Sandra took care of all of this. But with the complexity of setting up an evergreen funnel we’re pretty locked in even if we wanted to use something else. I’ll be updating you on how it goes. I’m happy with the way the registration looks and works.
Previously my website used a BeTheme, which was annoying to work with. I know this because I built it myself. Amber likes Divi Builder and built me a custom theme. The copy I gave her was lightly wireframed, but extremely specific in layout so it would not have worked to buy a theme and customize it.
NOTE: I can’t believe how critical the layout is! My previous websites always used whatever layout the pre-designed template gave me, to the detriment of my copy. I submitted extremely specific layouts to my designer, which I think will be really important in how it ultimately converts.
Previously we tried ThriveCart (sooo much cheaper!) and hated it. We switched after just one launch. I love how customizable SamCart checkout pages are, and they really cut down on our bounce rate.
Prior to Thrive cart we used Teachable checkout pages which are nigh on impossible to customize. Plus you can’t collect addresses so I’d be in serious trouble if Canada Revenue Agency came calling wondering why I haven’t been charging tax. This was my main reason for finally upgrading.
Software we’re already using includes:
Acuity Scheduling, Leadpages, ConvertKit, 1Password, Dropbox, Vimeo, Teachable, Google everything.
So what the heck took us so long to launch?
There were a couple of things that slowed us down, but most it just takes time to launch a website of this calibre and complexity. It’s a bit like building a house—the drywallers can’t get started until the plumbers are done with the pipes.
Sometimes I was just caught up with client work and couldn’t get back to Amber right away. Since she doesn’t work full-time, I slowed her down by not getting back to her on her working days.
The whole project expanded many times over. I had no idea how big this thing really was until I was in the middle of it.
We had to revisit our GDPR-compliance strategy MANY times, because it turned out some of the software didn’t play nicely with each other, or didn’t want to send the right data to ConvertKit so we could handle EU people the way we wanted to. So frustrating. (Mostly for Sandra, I was just standing by pulling my hair out quietly.)
Also, I raised my rates twice during the building of the website, once for a specific offer, then for all my time-based offers. I also switched up the bonus strategy for my evergreen program. This involved all kinds of extra work.
I also had the headlines rewritten and tweaked *some* of the copy after submitting it to Amber. Totally my fault, but honestly, that was definitely going to happen all along. Things look different after they’re designed, which is why I always tell my clients to send me their designed sales pages for a final review.
The Problem With A 9-Month Incubation Time
My business has evolved a LOT in the last nine months. I realized I badly need to shift away from calling myself a copywriter, since my bigger, much higher-value superpower is actually strategy & positioning.
This is a major issue I don’t actually know how to solve yet. It will definitely involve significant rewrites of my “work with me” page.
This also proves a point I’m always teaching my B-Schoolers. A website is a living, breathing thing. You won’t be DONE with your website until you’re done with your brand/business.
If your website isn’t evolving, either you are not evolving, or you ARE evolving and your website is just woefully outdated, as mine was prior to this rebrand. This is another problem I don’t know how to solve. But knowing is, I hope, half the battle.
The Cost of Creating A Million-Dollar Brand & Website
As I said, many an email to Amber began with “I know this will cost more, but can you add…” I also switched to an unlimited package with my OBM Sandra because I was using more than double my prepaid hours every single month.
Even so, we got this site done on a budget. It won’t seem that way when you hear the price tag, but I could’ve spent a LOT more.
I have a major talent for attracting people that do amazing work, are about to hit the big time, but haven’t raised their prices to match their talent yet. Adding to that, coaching my team into doing their best work is one of my superpowers. (I think—Sandra might be laughing when she reads that!) Lots of people were doing their best to really knock it outta the park for Tarzan.
The creative direction was mostly me, in collaboration with Amber. That in itself was the biggest job (Again, Sandra is probably laughing! She worked so hard!), and I don’t think you can outsource it if you’re a personal brand.
If I’d known my new website was going to cost as much as it did, it would’ve been VERY hard to commit. Now that I know what’s involved and the huge potential this site has, I could absolutely see clients willing to pay $30,000 for a site that has “million dollar brand” written all over it.
*If you don’t have offers (i.e. services and/or courses) that are already selling well, I would NOT recommend investing at this level.*
You can’t just BUY a great website and expect it to make tons of sales while you chill and watch Netflix.
We were able to create this because I know my customer really well. My offers and my programs are selling well enough that return on investment will be a cinch—yes, including all the time I invested as well, which was the biggest cost by far.
That being said – and this is REALLY important – I’m not attached to how this website performs. I’m already planning to optimize it and I know the evergreen funnel will need tweaking.
My website doesn’t owe me anything.
I built it for the pleasure of building it, and to see how my website could be working harder for me than it currently is. I’m CERTAIN it will work better than my old site (which performed really well despite serious gaps it did not address) but how much better remains to be seen.
…but do I want my quiz to go viral and make me $87 million dollars? Yes.
That was a lot of
- Design: Around $10,000
- Extra VA-time: $11,500
- Photography: $800 CAD
- Quiz Funnel Copy: $2500
- Additional copy help: $500
- Videography: $600
- Legal (from templates): $750
Additional Software Costs:
- OptinMonster: $600/year
- Deadline Funnel: $37/month
- EverWebinar: $497/year
- Interact: $17/month
- SamCart: $888/year
For nearly everyone on my team, it was our first time working on a website of this size and level of complexity. Next time I’m pretty sure Amber’s price will be much higher. Expect to pay $10,000+ for a website of this
Want a website like this for yourself?
I wish I could do it for you, but I’m not for hire.
It was such a large project and would take
If you want to learn copywriting and how to build a great website, I recommend signing up for B-School and/or The Copy Cure, both programs I promote annually.
But what you most need to know is that this is my seventh website. I made a LOT of duds before I got to this one.
You’re going to hate me for this advice, but here it is. Just keep working at it. Hire the best people you can afford. (Maybe book an hour with me if you have the budget, hehe.)
Comment below! What surprised you about the process? What scares you? What do you love/hate about the new site?
I’m a launch strategist, copywriter and educator on all things money—earning it, growing it, and helping others get more of it.
When I built my new website last year, the quiz was a huge focus. I wanted this to be the main entry point to my email list. The plan was to generate a bunch of inexpensive leads and make money from the course on autopilot.
I recommend attending live events as a key strategy to grow your business. You’ll get inspiration, clients, strategies, and street cred.
Talking to customers IRL is hard. For one, customer interviews are a giant and agonizing time-suck. You need at least 8 (sometimes up to 20) interviews to generate data you can trust. But also, most of us who run customer interviews tend to find little pay-off. Here's how to run effective, masterful customer interviews – the kind you’ll leave knowing you got the goods. And, knowing you can get them again, in every interview you run.